Ramifications of Sharing Content Created by Someone Else on Social Media Platforms

Modern advertising campaigns often involve the use of social media platforms. One common form of social media advertising is the sharing of a customer’s posts by a business. However, it is important to remember, any time you post something you did not create, you could end up in hot copyright water (and we are not talking about soothing hot-tub hot–this is the uncomfortable hot we are alluding to).

Copyright is a legal right that protects original works of authorship. Typically, if you create a visual, audio or written work, you obtain a copyright from the moment you create the work. As the copyright owner, you have certain rights under the law to stop others from copying or distributing your work, or creating new works based on your work. It is possible to infringe copyright without intending to do so. It may still be a copyright infringement if the post gives credit to the copyright owner, includes a disclaimer that no copyright infringement is intended or that the use is a fair use.

The rules governing sharing of material vary across social media platforms. For example, on Twitter, users may freely repost Tweets from other Twitter users. By becoming a Twitter user, one agrees to Twitter’s Terms of Service, which permit users to “Retweet” the content of other Twitter users and allows other Twitter users to Retweet your content. On Facebook, there is a “share” feature that allows users to share posts of others with their own friends or followers. Yet, Instagram, an increasingly popular social media platform, has no native “regram” function that will allow Instagram users to share others’ content in a way similar to retweets and shares on Facebook, without ripping the post out of its original context. Instagram’s community guidelines requires Instagram users to share only photos and videos that they have taken or have the right to share.

Here are some tips to ensure that the content you post to Instagram doesn’t violate copyright law:

  1. Only post original content that you’ve created yourself
  2. Make sure that you’ve obtained the permission (preferably in writing) of the copyright owner if you are regramming someone else’s content
  3. You might also be able to use someone else’s content on Instagram if your use is covered by fair use or some other exception to copyright law

Remember, even if you modified the work or added your own original material to it, it may still be an infringement of copyright.

To learn more about copyrights and social media laws, feel free to schedule a consultation with an attorney using this link or calling our office at 323.543.4453.

Written by Judy Yen, Associate

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